This Is Not Safe For Work

April 26th, 2017

I was browsing Youtube a few days ago and came across a group of very short videos, most of which featured rather crude humor.  (NSFW!)

The people in the videos were obviously veterans of the US armed forces, and there is usually some sort of firearm involved.

So what were they trying to get us, the general public, to buy?  Firearms training courses?  Perhaps gun gear and accessories?

No, none of that.  Instead they were selling coffee!

Of course, coffee and the US armed forces have a long history.

US Navy ships are dry, which means no alcohol is allowed on board except for extremely limited quantities that are kept for medicinal purposes.  Coffee, however, is rather prevalent.  Members of the Royal Navy which have to spend some time aboard US Navy warships routinely complain of painful caffeine withdrawal after they resume their duties in their own fleet.

The Black Rifle Coffee Company claims that they are veteran owned, pro 2nd Amendment, and Conservative in their politics.  And they want to sell you coffee.

One of their stated aims is to hire 10K veterans.  That seems rather ambitious to me.  But, hey, maybe there is a lot of more money in the coffee biz than I realize.  After all, look at Starbucks!

Is That A C.O.P. In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

April 23rd, 2017

After my short outline on tiny guns, I thought I’d bloviate about a really neat little self defense gun that was briefly marketed in the 1980’s.  It was a 4 barrel derringer chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge that went by the name C.O.P.

The gun was loaded by tilting the barrels up.

Four shots of .357 Magnum, an extremely potent handgun cartridge and my personal favorite.  It could certainly get the job done if need be.

The gun was intended to be carried by off-duty police officers while they went about their daily routine.  It was constructed of stainless steel, and was of rather high quality.  I had a chance to put twenty rounds through one a few decades ago, and found it to be very serviceable.  I wasn’t putting each bullet through the same hole at ten yards, but every round was kind enough to strike within walking distance of the X ring.

There were two main complaints.  One was that the trigger pull was heavy and long, and the the other was that the gun was rather heavy for the size.

The design never was popular, and the remaining examples fetch premium prices as collector pieces.  It certainly is a distinctive handgun, and it keeps showing up in movies and TV shows as some sort of futuristic firearm.

While searching the Internet for pictures of a C.O.P., I came across a post at No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money from February 2015. It seems that a company named Signal 9 Defense was looking to manufacture and sell their own version of the C.O.P.

This one would be chambered for a variety of calibers, and you could buy extra barrel assemblies so you could change the caliber of your gun.  The .357 Magnum is not one of the choices available, alas.  It has some polymer parts, particularly the grip, so it would be significantly lighter than a C.O.P.

The post at No Lawyers may be more than 2 years old as of this writing, but it appears that Signal 9 never did get their product to market.  Not that I am in the market for such a gun, but it seems like a nice idea that some people may find suits their needs.

Big Punch, Small Package

April 23rd, 2017

At various times over the decades, a student would show me a tiny handgun that they would want to use for self defense.  Usually they would be small autoloaders chambers for the .25 ACP cartridge, but sometimes a gun chambered for a round more suitable for self defense would crop up.  I am speaking, of course, of a derringer.

The original concept is simple enough.  Make a handgun as small as possible, but chamber it for a potent full sized defensive caliber.  The perfect point-and-shoot instrument, shorn of any distractions, they are not intended to be used for any prolonged gunplay.  If the attacker is within arm’s reach, then derringers come in to their own.

The person who had this flash of brilliance was Henry Deringer, an American gunsmith based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Come about 1825 or so, he started to offer handguns with extremely short barrels and minuscule furniture, but which would fire a ball of hefty and deadly caliber.  These guns originally used a flintlock ignition system.

By all accounts, sales were through the roof in a very short period of time.  Everyone, it seemed, who was interested in armed self defense was also interested in ultra-concealable guns that packed a good solid punch.  Henry couldn’t keep up with the demand, and other gunsmiths very quickly started to copy his basic idea.  Outraged that others were profiting on what was to be his only real contribution to firearm technology, Mr. Deringer took several to court.  He always lost his suit, but the copycat gunsmiths started to market their creations as derringers, with an extra R in the name just so Henry would reconsider any lawsuits and leave them alone. Henry only had his one shop, and everyone else flooded the market with their knock-offs, so the bastardized name stuck and the family name of the true inventor was forgotten.  Every time I type “deringer” the spell checker on my computer has a hissy.

The reason why Henry never won any of his lawsuits was because he really didn’t come up with anything truly innovative, he just figured out how to arrange things in a new an novel way.  Flintlock guns had been in use for at least two centuries before Mr. Deringer, he just attached it to a really short barrel and a really small handle.  He might have been able to make a legal argument that the makers of derringers were ripping him off if he had filed a patent or two when he started to market his deringers, but he never did.  Apparently he did very well for himself making and selling his own teensy guns, but there was an awful lot of money he missed out on by not filing a few documents down at the patent office.

Derringers continued to be made and marketed over the past two centuries, with new firearm technology being incorporated as it became available.  Flintlock derringers were supplanted by cap-and-ball versions.

When cartridge technology came about, well, why the heck not?

So are derringers serious self defense tools?  Did I voice my approval to the students who said they wanted to use derringers as their main defensive arm?  No, can’t say that I did.  In fact, I actively discouraged them.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Nothing wrong with derringers as a last ditch, emergency self defense gun.  The problem is that I deliberately chose people with no background in the shooting sports as my students.  Desperate people who had a pressing need to develop safe and effective gun handling skills, but who had no idea as to where to start.  I would give them as much training as I could, and insisted that they fire at least 500 rounds of various calibers before I was satisfied, but there is no substitute for experience.  It seemed to me that such small guns were just a bit too easy to get turned the wrong way unless someone had a few years of going to the range under their belt.

Did I make the right decision? I think so, but I can certainly see where someone would have a different opinion.

I thought I’d post this small essay about the smallest of defensive handguns when I came across this page from the FBI website.  The author discusses the methods used to authenticate the derringer recovered from the Presidential box at Ford’s Theater the night that President Lincoln was shot in the head by John Wilkes Boothe.

If you read the FBI file, note how the author keeps spelling Deringer capitalized and with one R.  Obviously someone who wants to give credit where credit is due.

Selling Gas Is For The Birds

February 27th, 2017

Taken right outside Coahoma, Texas.

The Start Of Gunfight Tactics

February 24th, 2017

If you are involved in the shooting sports, you find out very quickly that there are a lot of products out there that have “tactical” as part of their name.

What does that mean, “tactical”?  Just that the product is supposed to help one prevail in a gunfight.  Everything from accessories for a defensive handgun, to clothing and beyond, carry the tactical name.

A lot of training programs also claim to pass along tactical skills, which also means that their course of instruction is supposed to increase the odds of survival is there is an armed encounter of some kind.

Long time reader knirrir was kind enough to give a heads up to the following magazine article.

Rumor has it that this was originally published in Outdoor Life magazine in 1918.  If so, then it is an interesting artifact in that it shows the beginning of modern tactical training, even though some of the techniques outlined are a bit dubious.

Case in point is the first picture, where one is supposed to use a judo throw to send any female companions to the ground so they would be out of the way during a gunfight.

I have to admit that this has a certain appeal, should one be spending time with a companion who is prone to doing the wrong thing during high stress moments.  I remember a time when walking alongside a road with a young woman, and a minor fender bender occurring in the street caused her to try and shinny up me like she was a cat and I was a tree.

Sounds a lot more amusing than it was at the time, as she essentially anchored both of us in place at a time when it would have been better to be able to dodge should the need arise.

Tossing people about aside, the pictures above don’t do too bad.  How to carry concealed is addressed, including small of the back which shows some forward thinking.

Interesting to me is the thoughts on retaining the handgun.  Modern training methods spend a fair amount of time on handgun retention, which means holding on to your gun if someone should try and wrestle it away from you.

It is a bit different in the old Outdoor Life article.  It appears to be taken on faith by the author that those interested in armed self defense will not only carry a handgun, but also a large fighting knife.  This makes holding on to your gun relatively easy, as the violent criminal is either trying to grasp the sharp blade of a knife, or trying to wrestle a handgun away while one goes all stabby with the knife.

Would I advocate any of these methods?  I think the training we have now is better suited to the times, actually.  But that doesn’t mean the old ways are completely worthless.

Living In The Past

January 30th, 2017

Lots and lots of people here in the United States are big into historical reenactment, just as there plenty of people the world over who like to celebrate their cultural past.  Even I had a very brief fling with it, as I was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism way back in my late teens.

(Not me, but some other guy.)

So far as the shooting sports are concerned, I briefly investigated Cowboy Action Shooting before deciding that it wasn’t something for which I could spare the time.

(Picture source, and it is still not me.)

Passionate as the enthusiast may be for these two aspects of historical reenactment, I would have to say that they pale in comparison to the most popular eras that are celebrated in the US.  These would be the late 18th Century during the American Revolutionary War, and the late 19th Century during the American Civil War.

For our purposes today, we will be focusing on the American Revolutionary War.

I mention all this not because I have a sudden burning desire to invest in period garb and live in a tent without running water or modern plumbing, but because I ran across this Youtube channel.  It features historical recipes, taken from cookbooks hundreds of years old, and prepared using traditional methods employing equipment that would not have been out of place in the kitchens of the time.

The first video I saw was a simple bacon-and-eggs recipe.

Simple though this may be, but I found it interesting that a wood fire was used, with old fashioned kitchen implements.

Upon exploring the channel a bit more, I found some really interesting recipes from meat pies, to ketchup made from mushrooms.

All of that period gear is not surprising, considering the Youtube channel was started as a way to advertise for the family business.  Whatever you might need for living like it’s 1799, Jas. Townsend and Sons either has it, or can tell you where you can get it.

I’m not interested in the living history aspect, but the recipes are a lot of fun.  Be warned that you will have to have a supply of nutmeg on hand, however.  Seems that just about every recipe from the late 18th Century demanded some freshly ground nutmeg for some reason.

Sharp And Shiny

January 30th, 2017

(Click pic for bigger.)

I’m not really into knives per se. as they are really just utilitarian tools to me.  But this one sure is pretty!

I came across the picture while browsing about, and have no further information.

Even A Great Old One Has To Kick Back Every Now And Then

January 25th, 2017

The mere sight of Cthulhu was supposed to induce madness.  I can certainly see why!

I Don’t Think That Is A Real Suppressor

January 22nd, 2017

Nice gun!

Watching The Bullet Drop

January 22nd, 2017

It was the 1930’s, and the US military was taking a look at the data from WWI.  How effective were handguns in war?  Not very!

I can’t find the source, but I remember reading a report many decades ago that had been written in the 1920’s.  The author was a high ranking officer of the British army medical corps, and his assessment was stark and realistic.  Seems the most wounds were caused by artillery, second most common wounds caused by machine guns, third by rifles.  Handguns?  If memory serves, Official records told of a total of seven people ended up in field hospitals with a hole in their hide caused by a handgun during the course of the war.  Seems they all claimed to have been sleeping, and they rolled over on top of their pistol when it went off!

Did it happen that way, or were they trying to get out of going over the top?  No way to tell.

At any rate, the idea of equipping the support troops that needed to do their work close to the enemy lines with a handgun for self protection fell out of favor. Artillery crews, officers, cooks, mechanics, what have you.  They all might need to defend themselves if their positions are overrun, but their main job keeps them from hauling around a main battle rifle around with a combat load to go with it.  Past practice was to issue handguns to such troops and call it good, but that didn’t seem to be all that great an idea any more.

Handguns are great if the enemy is in leaping distance, mind, but using one in a battle when the enemy is more than about seven yards away takes more training and constant practice than most soldiers are probably going to get.  It is certainly within the capabilities of gun and man with that training and experience, just that the army expects the support troops to concentrate on their jobs instead of visiting the range every day to practice with their handguns.

Okay, so a pistol didn’t cut the mustard anymore.  So what to do?

The US military decided to design a brand new rifle, something small and light enough to be carried by support troops while they went about their duties, yet with enough range to be effective at short-to-medium battlefield distances.  This was the M1 Carbine.

The M1 Carbine was exactly what the Army ordered.  Small and light, semi-auto so the volume of fire was respectable, and able to reach out and touch someone with aimed shots up to 300 yards away.  The main reason the new weapon fit the bill so well is entirely due to the ammunition, as the cartridge to be used in the M1 Carbine was designed first and the rifle added later.

Most people assume that the .30 Carbine round was originally designed to be a handgun cartridge, but that is not true.  It was always intended to be fired from a small rifle.  Still, it is certainly understandable why one would get that impression as the .30 Carbine round sure looks like a pistol cartridge.

(Picture source.)

That is a standard .30-06 cartridge on top, which was the ammo used by the US for their main battle rifle when the M1 Carbine was introduced.  Notice how it has shoulders, which means that it narrows down towards the bullet end, while the .30 Carbine round on the bottom is a straight wall cartridge without any constriction.  Also note how the .30-06 bullet is pointy like most rifle bullets, while the .30 Carbine bullet is round like most handgun ammo.

So one could think of the M1 Carbine as a really big handgun, something suitable for self defense but not powerful enough to be a really effective main battle rifle.  Which was exactly the point.

Okay, so the carbine bullet is round, and it isn’t nearly as heavy as the main battle rifle cartridge, nor is the bullet moving nearly as fast.  It is also round, not pointed, which has to reduce the effective range due to inefficient aerodynamics.  Even so, the M1 Carbine is supposed to be reasonably accurate out to 300 yards.  Is that true?

I came across a Youtube video that I think is extremely interesting.

The author of the video hooked a camera up to a spotting scope, and you will see some sort of atmospheric distortion when he fires a round.  That distortion is the disturbance caused by the bullet punching through the air, ghost trails that mark out the path taken by the bullet.

Go ahead and take a look.  Please note that the bullet has a noticeable drop at 300 yards, with the bullets arching down more than a foot to their final resting place.  This isn’t something that is unusual, as all bullets will be dropping by the time they travel 300 yards downrange, but it sure is neat to see it!